ROSICRUCIAN APOLOGISTS: MICHAEL MAIER.
THIS celebrated German alchemist was born at Ruidsburg,
in Holstein, about the year 1658. In his youth, says the
“Biographie Universelle,” he applied himself to the study of
medicine, and establishing himself at Rostoch, he practised
that art with so much success that he became physician to
the Emperor Rudolph II., by whom he was ennobled for
his services. Some adepts, notwithstanding, succeeded in
wiling him from the practical path he had followed so
long; il se passionna pour le grand oeuvre, and followed all
Germany to hold conferences with those whom he thought to
be in possession of transcendent secrets. Another account
declares that he sacrificed his health, his fortune, and his time
to these “ruinous absurdities.” According to Buhle, he
travelled extensively, particularly to England, where he
made the acquaintance of Robert Fludd. He finished by
accepting the post of physician at Magdebourg, where he
died in 1622.
Michael Maier is one of the most important and interesting
persons connected with the Rosicrucian controversy.
He was the first to transplant it into England, “and as he
firmly believed in the existence of such a sect, he sought
to introduce himself to its notice; but finding this impossible,”
says Buhle, “he set himself to establish such an
order by his own efforts; and in his future writings he
spoke of it as already existing—going so far even as to publish
its laws.” He was a voluminous and ingenious writer,
and, according to Langlet du Fresnoy, all his treatises were
excessively rare, even in the eighteenth century. “They
contain much curious material,” says this writer, “and I
am astonished that the German booksellers, who publish
innumerable worthless works, have not condescended to
perceive that a complete collection of the writings of
Michael Maier would be more useful and command a larger
sale than the trash with which they overwhelm scholars
and the public generally.
This task still remains to be accomplished, and considerations
of space will prevent me from even supplying a
bibliography of these singular works. The most curious
of all is “Atalanta Fugiens,” which abounds with quaint
and mystical copperplate engravings, emblematically revealing
the most unsearchable secrets of Nature. This production,
with the “Tripus Aureus,” or three tracts of Basil
Valentin, Thomas Norton, and Cremer, the Abbot of
Westminster, all of which were unearthed by the diligence
of Maier, seem to have appeared before he had immersed
himself in the insoluble Rosicrucian mystery. The
“Silentium Post Clamores,” however, published at Francfurt
in 1617, professes to account not only for the speech in
season uttered by the Fraternity in its priceless manifestoes,
but for the silence which followed when it declined even to
reply to the pamphlets and epistles of persons seeking
initiation. The author asserts that from very ancient
times philosophical colleges have existed among various
nations for the study of medicine and of natural secrets, and
that the discoveries which they made were perpetuated from
generation to generation by the initiation of new members,
whence the existence of a similar association at the present
time was no subject for astonishment. The philosophical
colleges referred to are those of old Egypt, whose priests in
reality were alchemists, “seeing that Isis and Osiris are
sulphur and argentum vivum”; of the Orphic and Eleusinian
mysteries, of the Samothracian Cabiri, the Magi of
Persia, the Brachmans of India, the Gymnosophists,
Pythagoreans, &c. He maintains that one and all of these
were instituted, not for the teaching of exoteric doctrines,
but the most arcane mysteries of Nature. Afterwards he
argues that if the German Fraternity had existed, as it declares,
for so many years, it was better that it should reveal
itself, than be concealed for ever under the veil of silence,
and that it could not manifest itself otherwise than in the
“Fama” and “Confessio Fraternitatis,” which contain
nothing contrary to reason, nature, experience, or the
possibility of things. Moreover, the Order rightly observes
that silence which Pythagoras imposed on his disciples, and
which alone can preserve the mysteries of existence from the
prostitution of the vulgar. The contents of the two manifestoes
are declared to be true, and we are further informed
that we owe a great debt to the Order for their experimental
investigations, and for their discovery of the universal
Catholicon. The popular objections preferred against it are
disposed of in different chapters, e.g., the charges of necromancy
and superstition. The explicit statement of the
Society, that all communications addressed to it should
not fail to reach their destination, although they were
unknown and anonymous, proving apparently false, was a
special cause of grievance; those who sought health and
those who coveted treasures at their hand were equally disappointed,
and, according to Michael Maier, appear to have
been equally enraged. He expostulates with them, saying
Non omnis ad omnia omnibus horis paratus est, but his arguments
as a whole can hardly be deemed satisfactory. Locorum
absentia, personarum distantia, &c., could scarcely prove obstacles
to men who were bound by no considerations of space
and time, and readers of the inmost heart would have discovered
some who were worthy among the host of applicants.
A much larger work, “Symbola Aureæ Mensæ,”
published in the same year as the “Silentium Post
Clamores” also contains some references to the “College
of German Philosophers of R. C.” The story of the founder
is reprinted, and Apollo with the twin muses are represented
as contributing various vexatious metrical enigmas
for the benefit of those enquirers who desired to be directed
to the local habitation of the Order. Neither of these
works represents their author as personally connected with
the Rosicrucians, nor do they convey any information
respecting them. The same must be said of “Themis
Aurea, hoc est, De Legibus Fraternitatis R. C. Tractatus,”
which Maier published at Francfurt in 1618. It maintains
that the laws in question are good, dilates upon
the pre-eminent dignity of the healing art, declares that
all vices are intolerable in physicians, and that the Rosicrucians
are free from all. The most curious and important
point in the whole “Apologia” is that Maier declares the
“Universal Reformation” to have no connection with the
manifestoes of the Society, but to be a tract translated from
the Italian, and simply bound up with the “Fama.”
Moreover, he earnestly endeavours to free the Order
from the imputation that it desired to reform the world.
Reformatio omnium heræsum potius ad Deum, quad hominem
spectat, nec a Fratribus affectatur. But whether the Com-
munis et Generalis Reformatio had any connection with the
Rosicrucians, or not, it is evident from the documents
about which there is no doubt or question, and particularly
from the “Fama Fraternitatis,” that they believed a
general revolution to be at hand, and that they would
be concerned therein.
A posthumous tract of Michael Maier was published in
1624 by one of his personal friends, who explicitly states
that he is ignorant whether the departed alchemist, who so
warmly and gratuitously defended the cause of the Rosicrucians,
was ever received into their number, but
that it is certain he was a Brother of the Christian Religion,
or a Brother of the Kingdom of Christ. This statement
may simply mean that he was a Christian and a man
of God, or, on the other hand, it may signify that he was a
member of the Christian Fraternity of Andreas. However
this may be, two Latin tracts, being translations from the
German made by the same friend of Maier, follow the
posthumous pamphlet of the alchemist. The first is a
colloquy on the Society by personages respectively
called Quirinus, Polydorus, Tyrosophus, Promptutus, and
Politicus. The second is an “Echo colloquii” by Benedict
Hilarion, who professes to write “Mandato superiorum,”
to represent the order, and to be himself a Rosicrucian.
There: are two mottoes on the title page of this work—the
one is per angusta ad augusta, the other
Augustis, Augusta, viis petit ardua virtus,
Non datur, ad coelum currere lata via.
The writer refers in a kindly manner to the propagandist
labours of Michael Maier, and assures the anonymous but
illustrious Tyrosophus that his Rosicrucian apologies were
not written in vain, and hints broadly that he was at
length admitted into their Order, which still holds out the
promise of initiation to others when the proper time shall
have arrived. This publication is singularly free from the
sectarian bitterness of the first manifestoes. It recognises
that all have erred, including Luther himself, and seems
animated by a reasonable and conciliatory spirit. At the
end there are published some “Declaratory Canons” of
the Order, which define God to be the Eternal Father, incorruptible
fire, and everlasting light, discuss the generation
of the invisible and incomprehensible Word of God,
and the tetradic manifestation of the elements.
In none of these works does the statement of Professor
Buhle, concerning the foundation of a Rosicrucian society,
and the publication of its laws, receive a particle of corroboration.
The other works of Michael Maier are of a
purely alchemical nature, save and except some obscure
pamphlets which are not in the Library of the British
Museum, which I have therefore been unable to consult,
and which may contain the information in question; but
from my knowledge of Professor Buhle and his romantic
methods, I suspect his imagination has been unconsciously
at work on some doubtful passages in the writings which
have already been noticed, more especially as the personal
but anonymous friend who edited Maier’s posthumous tract
entitled “Ulysses,” knew nothing apparently of such a
pseudo-association, nor is it likely that the author of the
“Echo Colloquii,” would hint at his initiation into the
genuine order if Maier had instituted a rival society, shining
by the borrowed lustre of its name and its symbols.
However this may be, with the death of Michael Maier
the Rosicrucians disappear from the literary horizon of
Germany till the year 1710, when a writer, calling himself
S. R., that is, Sincerus Renatus, otherwise Sigmund
Richter, published at Breslau his “Perfect and True Preparation
of the Philosophical Stone, according to the Secret
of the Brotherhoods of the Golden and Rosy Cross,” to
which is annexed the “rules of the above-mentioned Order
for the initiation of new members” and their enrolment
among the Sons of the Doctrine. This extraordinary publication
was followed, in 1785-88, by the “Secret Symbols
of the Rosicrucians of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,”
which, though published at Altona, seems to have
emanated from the same source. The latter work is also of
an alchemical nature, and no information of a historical
kind is to be found in either. I shall conclude this account
of the results of the Rosicrucian manifestoes in Germany
Laws of the Brotherhood, as published by Sincerus Renatus.
It is certain, says Semler, that the long series of regulations
enumerated by this writer were not adopted before
1622, for Montanus (Ludov. Conr. von Berger), who was
supposed to have been expelled from the Order in that
year, was not acquainted with them.
I. The brotherhood shall not consist of more than sixtythree
II. The initiation of Catholics shall be allowed, and one
member is prohibited to question another about his belief.
III. The ten years’ office of the Rosicrucian imperator
shall be abolished, and he shall be elected for life.
IV. The imperator shall keep the address of every member
on his list, to enable them to help each other in case of
necessity. A list of all names and birthplaces shall likewise
be kept. The eldest brother shall always be impera-
tor. Two houses shall be erected at Nurenberg and Ancona
for the periodical conventions.
V. If two or three brethren meet together, they shall
not be empowered to elect a new member without the permission
of the imperator. Any such election shall be
VI. The young apprentice or brother shall be obedient
unto death to his master.
VII. The brothers shall not eat together except on Sundays,
but if they work together they shall be allowed to
live, eat, and drink in common.
VIII. It is prohibited for a father to elect his son or
brother, unless he shall have proved him well. It is better
to elect a stranger so as to prevent the Art becoming
IX. Although two or three of the brethren may be
gathered together, they shall not permit anyone, whomsoever
it may be, to make his profession to the Order unless
he shall have previously taken part in the Practice, and
has had full experience of all its workings, and has, moreover,
an earnest desire to acquire the Art.
X. When one of the brethren intends to make an heir,
such an one shall confess in one of the churches built at
our expense, and afterwards shall remain about two years
as an apprentice. During this probation he shall be made
known to the Congregation, and the Imperator shall be
informed of his name, country, profession, and origin, to
enable him to despatch two or three members at the proper
time with his seal to make the apprentice a brother.
XI. When the brethren meet they shall salute each other
in the following manner:—The first shall say, Ave Frater!
The second shall answer, Roseæ et Aureæ. Whereupon
the first shall conclude with Crucis. After they have
thus discovered their position, they shall say one to
another, Benedictus Dominus Deus noster qui dedit nobis
signum, and shall also uncover their seals, because if the
name can be falsified the seal cannot.
XII. It is commanded that every brother shall set to
work after he has been accepted in our large houses, and
has been endowed with the Stone (he receives always a
sufficient portion to ensure his life for the space of sixty
years). Before beginning he shall recommend himself to
God, pledging himself not to use his secret Art to offend
Him, to destroy or corrupt the empire, to become a tyrant
through ambition or other causes, but always to appear
ignorant, invariably asserting that the existence of such
secret arts is only proclaimed by charlatans.
XIII. It is prohibited to make extracts from the secret
writings, or to have them printed, without permission from
the Congregation; also to sign them with the names or
characters of any brother. Likewise, it is prohibited to
print anything against the Art.
XIV. The brethren shall only be allowed to discourse of
the secret Art in a well-closed room.
XV. It is permitted for one brother to bestow the Stone
freely upon another , for it shall not be said that this gift
of God can be bought with a price.
XVI. It is not permissible to kneel before anyone, under
any circumstances, unless that person be a member of the
XVII. The brethren shall neither talk much nor marry.
Yet it shall be lawful for a member to take a wife if he very
much desire it, but he shall live with her in a philosophical
mind. He shall not allow his wife to practise over-
much with the young brethren. With the old members
she may be permitted to practice, and he shall value the
honour of his children as his own.
XVIII. The brethren shall refrain from stirring up
hatred and discord among men. They shall not discourse
of the soul, whether in human beings, animals, or plants,
nor of any other subject which, however natural to themselves,
may appear miraculous to the common understanding.
Such discourse can easily lead to their discovery, as
occurred at Rome in the year 1620. But if the brethren
be alone they may speak of these secret things.
XIX. It is forbidden to give any portion of the Stone to
a woman in labour, as she would be brought to bed
XX. The Stone shall not be used at the chase.
XXI. No person having the Stone in his possession shall
ask a favour of anyone.
XXII. It is not allowable to manufacture pearls or other
precious stones larger than the natural size.
XXIII. It is forbidden (under penalty of punishment in
one of our large houses) that anyone shall make public the
sacred and secret matter, or any manipulation, coagulation,
or solution thereof.
XXIV. Because it may happen that several brethren
are present together in the same town, it is advised,
but not commanded, that on Whitsuntideday any brother
shall go to that end of the town which is situated towards
sunrise and shall hang up a green cross if he be a Rosicrucian,
and a red one if he be a brother of the Golden Cross.
Afterwards, such a brother shall tarry in the vicinity till
sunset, to see if another brother shall come and hang up
his cross also, when they shall salute after the usual man-
ner, make themselves mutually acquainted, and subsequently
inform the imperator of their meeting.
XXV. The imperator shall every ten years change his
abode, name, and surname. Should he think it needful
he may do so at shorter periods, the brethren to be informed
with all possible secresy.
XXVI. It is commanded that each brother, after his initiation
into the Order, shall change his name and surname,
and alter his years with the Stone. Likewise, should he
travel from one country to another, he shall change his
name to prevent recognition.
XXVII. No brother shall remain longer than ten years
out of his own country, and whenever he departs into
another he shall give notice of his destination, and of the
name he has adopted.
XXVIII. No brother shall begin to work till he has been
one year in the town where he is residing, and has made
the acquaintance of its inhabitants. He shall have no acquaintance
with the professores ignorantes.
XXIX. No brother shall dare to reveal his treasures,
either of gold or silver, to any person whomsoever; he
shall be particularly careful with members of religious
societies, two of our brethren having been lost, anno 1641,
thereby. No member of any such society shall be accepted
as a brother upon any pretence whatever.
XXX. While working, the brethren shall select persons
of years as servants in preference to the young.
XXXI. When the brethren wish to renew themselves,
they must, in the first place, travel through another kingdom,
and after their renovation is accomplished, must
remain absent from their former abode.
XXXII. When brethren dine together, the host, in ac-
cordance with the conditions already laid down, shall endeavour
to instruct his guests as much as possible.
XXXIII. The brethren shall assemble in our great houses
as frequently as possible, and shall communicate one to
another the name and abode of the imperator.
XXXIV. The brethren in their travels shall have no
connection nor conversation with women, but shall choose
one or two friends, generally not of the Order.
XXXV. When the brethren intend to leave any place,
they shall divulge their destination to no one, neither shall
they sell anything which they cannot carry away, but shall
direct their landlord to divide it among the poor, if they do
not return in six weeks.
XXXVI. A brother who is travelling shall carry nothing
in oil, but only in the form of powder of the first projection,
which shall be enclosed in a metallic box having a metal
XXXVII. No brother should carry any written description
of the Art about him, but should he do so, it must be
written in an enigmatical manner.
XXXVIII. Brethren who travel, or take any active part
in the world, shall not eat if invited by any man to his
table unless their host has first tasted the food. If this be
not possible, they shall take. in the morning, before leaving
home, one grain of our medicine in the sixth projection,
after which they can eat without fear, but both in eating
and drinking they shall be moderate.
XXXIX. No brother shall give the Stone in the sixth
projection to strangers, but only to sick brethren.
XL. If a brother, who is at work with anyone, be questioned
as to his position, he shall say that he is a novice
and very ignorant.
XLI. Should a brother desire to work, he shall only employ
an apprentice in default of securing the help of a
brother, and shall be careful that such an apprentice is not
present at all his operations.
XLII. No married man shall be eligible for initiation as a
brother, and in case any brother seeks to appoint an heir,
he shall choose some one unencumbered by many friends.
If he have friends, he must take a special oath to communicate
the secrets to none, under penalty of punishment
by the imperator.
XLIII. The brethren may take as an apprentice anyone
they have chosen for their heir, provided he be ten years
old. Let the person make profession. When the permission
of the imperator is obtained, whereby anybody is really
accepted as a member, he can be constituted heir.
XLIV. It is commanded. that a brother who by any
accident has been discovered by any prince, shall sooner die
than initiate him into the secret; and all the other brethren,
including the imperator, shall be obliged to venture their
life for his liberation. If, by misfortune, the prince remain
obstinate, and the brother dies to preserve the secret, he
shall be declared a martyr, a relative shall be received in
his place, and a monument with secret inscriptions shall be
erected in his honour.
XLV. It is commanded that a new brother can only be
received into the Order in one of the churches built at our
expense, and in the presence of six brethren. It is necessary
to instruct him for three months, and to provide him
with all things needful. Afterwards he must receive the
sign of Peace, a palm-branch, and three kisses, with the
words—”Dear brother, we command you to be silent.”
After this, he must kneel before the imperator in a special
dress, with an assistant on either side, the one being his
magister, and the other a brother. He shall then say:—
“I, N. N., swear by the eternal and living God not to make
known the secret which has been communicated to me
(here he uplifts two fingers1) to any human being, but to
preserve it in concealment under the natural seal all the
days of my life; likewise to keep secret all things connected
therewith as far as they may be made known to me; likewise
to discover nothing concerning the position of our brotherhood,
neither the abode, name, or surname of our imperator,
nor to shew the Stone to anyone; all which I promise to
preserve eternally in silence, by peril of my life, as God
and His Word may help me.”
Afterwards his magister cuts seven tufts of hair from his
head and seals them up in seven papers, writing on each
the name and surname of the new brother, and giving them
to the imperator to keep. The next day the brethren proceed
to the residence of the new brother, and eat therein
without speaking or saluting one another. When they go
away, however, they must say, “Frater Aureæ (vel Roseæ)
Crucis Deus sit tecum cum perpetuo silentio Deo promisso et
nostræ sanctæ congregationi.” This is done three days in
XLVI. When those three days are passed, they shall
give some gifts to the poor, according to their intention
XLVII. It is forbidden to tarry in our houses longer
than two months together.
XLVIII. After a certain time the brethren shall be on a
more familiar footing with the new brother, and shall instruct
him as much as possible.
1 See “The Mysteries of Magic,” pp. 324, 325.
XLIX. No brother need perform more than three projections
while he stays in our large house, because there are
certain operations which belong to the magisters.
L. The brethren shall be called, in their conversation wit
h each other, by the name they received at their
LI. In presence of strangers they shall be called by their
LII. The new brother shall invariably receive the name
of the brother then last deceased; and all the brethren
shall be obedient to these rules when they have been accepted
by the Order; and have taken the oath of fidelity in
the name of the Lord Jesus Christus.